December Jazz in Birmingham

The jazz scene often slows down as Christmas approaches, but there is nonetheless plenty of interest in the Fizzle, TDE Promotions and Jazzlines December programmes.

I’m going to cheat a little by starting with the TDE Promotions gig in the intimate Hexagon Theatre on Thursday 25th December (8pm) with a very special double bill with Trish Clowes and Louise McMonagle performing the compositions originally written for the Punkt Birmingham Festival cancelled due to Covid, and Adam Fairhall and Johnny Hunter performing their reinterpretation of the music of boogie woogie pianist Winifred Atwell. There seem to be certain affinities between the original styles of jazz and ragtime, and contemporary jazz, and Fairhall and Hunter will be exploring these in their set. You can buy tickets here.

Nikki Iles Norma Winstone Mark Lockheart

Jazzlines has an unmissable concert on Wednesday 1st December. It will be the first visit to Birmingham for many years of Norma Winstone, one of the world’s finest jazz singers and one who keeps alive the music of the generation we associate with Kenny Wheeler, John Taylor and Norma. She will be performing in a trio with Nikki Iles, a regular partner of Norma’s on piano, and saxophonist Mark Lockheart. This will be on the ‘flipped stage’ in Symphony Hall, which involves both the band and the audience situated on the actual stage, the band with its back to the main auditorium and the audience on raked seating facing the band. It’s a wonderful experience with good sound and sightlines which is perfect for this particular trio. Book at www.bmusic.co.uk

Olly Chalk

On Sunday 5th December Fizzle presents a double bill, also of two duos: Dominic Lash (bass) and Alex Ward (clarinet) and Olivia Murphy (saxophones) and Olly Chalk (piano). Lash and Ward are two improvisers who always come up with something special, and in this duo interact in ways that constantly change and surprise. I am also looking forward to hearing Olly Chalk work with Olivia Murphy as both graduated from the jazz course at Birmingham Conservatoire and are beginning to develop interesting approaches to free improvisation. Olly Chalk is one of the most interesting young pianists to have emerged from that course, and is definitely one to watch. The gig is one of Fizzle’s Sunday afternoon sessions at Centrala, and Sunday afternoon seems to be a popular time for listening to adventurous music. You can book here.

The December Paul Dunmall Invites session features a quartet that has recently made what is probably the best of the Fizzle/TDE Promotions videos. It features guitarist Steve Saunders, (another recent graduate), bass player Dave Kane and drummer Miles Levin. Their session at Sansom Studios took off immediately and the whole session was exciting, dramatic and full of great music; have a listen to a short extract here. The gig is at The Eastside Jazz Club at the Birmingham Conservatoire, on Thursday 9th December starting at 6.30 with a very interesting support band Dreamscapes led by guitarist Julien Durand and featuring a great line up including the new singing star Lucy-Anne Daniels. You can book here.

Finally TDE Promotions present on Wednesday 15th December a very stimulating trio from The Netherlands, Under The Surface, featuring the very attractive vocals of Sanne Rambegs accompanied by guitarist Bram Stadhouders and drummer and leader of the trio Joost Lijbaart. There will be a support set by violinist Sarah Farmer and sound manipulator Annie Mahtani (laptop). This will be a gently contemplative concert. Book here.

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